Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh and Murfreesboro Police Chief Michael Bowen
Two officers who investigated a rash of opioid overdoses leading to one death and serious injuries to seven people earned awards from U.S. Attorney Don Cochran Wednesday.
Murfreesboro Police CID Sgt. Tommy Massey and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Lt. Will Holton received the U.S. Attorney’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement.
Massey and Holton’s work were instrumental in the conviction of eight people in federal court, the U.S. Attorney said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Klopf, who prosecuted the case, said the investigations by Massey and Holton were models for other law enforcement agencies.
“It’s a real tribute,” Cochran said.
Massey called Klopf the “MVP of the team,” adding her words were a nice recognition for the officers.
The detective he received a call in July 2016 of a death investigation and several overdoses throughout the day in Rutherford and Bedford counties.
One person overdosing and driving almost killed a woman and her daughter, he said.
Holton said he was notified of the overdoses leading to a long 72 hours of initial investigation with Rutherford County law enforcement agencies, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“There was overdose after overdose after overdose,” Holton remembered.
In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported law enforcement and medical personnel were overwhelmed by the wave of drug overdoses, causing the death of one person and the hospitalization of more than 20 others in July 2016 in Murfreesboro.
The overdoses were caused by counterfeit pills that appeared to contain Percocet, but in fact contained a deadly combination of fentanyl, alprazolam, and acetaminophen.
The year-long investigation revealed the pills were manufactured by Joedon Bradley and Eric Falkowski, using fentanyl they had imported from China and a pill press they bought from Amazon. The pill press allowed them to stamp the pills with “A333,” resembling prescription Percocets.
On July 5, 2016, Bradley sold about 300 of the counterfeit pills to Johnny Williams, who sold half to Jonathan Barrett. Bradley, Williams, and Barrett then sold the pills to various users, resulting in the overdoses. Even after Barrett learned some people he sold to had overdosed, and one possibly died, he sold the remainder of his pills.
After a three-week trial in April 2018, Bradley, Williams, and Barrett were convicted of conspiring to distribute fentanyl, the use of which caused the death of one individual, and the serious bodily injury to seven other victims. Five other defendants, including Eric Falkowski, pleaded guilty before trial.
As a result of the determined efforts of the officers on this team, the perpetrators of these egregious crimes were brought to justice with Bradley, Barrett and Williams receiving prison sentences of 30, 22, and 20 years respectively, and the other co-defendants receiving substantial sentences.
Video of the award presentation is available for download by clicking the following link: